Near Eastern Languages & Cultures Graduate Students Win Prestigious Awards

Published: June 27, 2018

The Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures (NELC) is extremely proud this year to be able to boast of the accomplishments of so many of our students.  Despite our department’s small size, no fewer than six of our Ph.D. candidates are recent recipients of prestigious fellowships and awards.

NELC Ph.D. student Jesse Arlen, whose research concerns spirituality and literature in the Middle Ages, received the Dolores Zohrab Liebmann Fellowship for the 2018-2019 academic year. His dissertation, under the direction of Professor Peter Cowe, will examine mystic writers around the turn of the First Millennium CE in the Near East and Mediterranean, with a focus on the Armenian, Greek, and Arabic traditions.

NELC’s Michael Chen has received the J. Clawson Mills Scholarship at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for the 2018-2019 academic year. He will be an Art History Fellow hosted by the Department of Egyptian Art, examining the corpus of Late Period Egyptian healing statues as part of his dissertation project, which wrestles with the interrelationship between healing practices and religion.

Meanwhile Molly Courtney, a Ph.D. student of modern Arabic literature, has received a fellowship from the Center for Arabic Study Abroad (CASA). As a CASA fellow, she will pursue intensive advanced Arabic language and culture study at the American University in Cairo in Cairo, Egypt from September 2018 to May 2019.

Amy Karoll, Ph.D. Candidate in Levantine Archaeology, received not only the W.F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research’s Educational Cultural Affairs Junior Research Fellowship to study in Israel from August to December 2018, but also the American Center of Oriental Research’s Council of American Overseas Research Centers Pre-Graduate Fellowship to study in Jordan from January to April 2019. She will join other scholars at these two institutions to continue her dissertation research on “Between Collapse and Mobility: Change in the Third Millenium B.C. Southern Levant.”

In addition to these many fellowships, we’re also proud to announce that Scott Abramson, PhD Candidate in Jewish Studies, was the recipient this year’s Distinguished Teaching Award. Under the direction of two co-advisors, Professor Lev Hakak and Professor Steven Spiegel, Scott is writing his dissertation on the history of the modern Levant, with special reference to intercommunal relations and minority experience.

And finally, in March, one of our Egyptology graduate students, Marissa Stevens, won UCLA’s 2018 Grad Slam, a campus-wide competition that showcases and awards the best 3-minute research presentations, highlighting the excellence, importance and relevance of UCLA graduate students and their research. Marissa presented on Social Identity from Ancient Egypt to Modern Times, focusing on the display of social identity through material culture in ancient Egypt, and went on to represent UCLA at the UC-wide Grad Slam Competition in San Francisco.